The Little House by the Sea (Pennystrand Village Book 1) by Tracy Rees


source: ARC via NetGalley/Bookouture
title: The Little House by the Sea (Pennystrand Village Book 1)
author: Tracy Rees
pages: 277
published: August 24, 2022
genre: fiction
first line: Kitty, it’s time to go home now.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars

about:
Bluebells bob in the salty sea wind and the cottage gate swings open to reveal the inky-blue cove. It’s exactly how Kitty always pictured it… except in her head, she wasn’t standing here alone.

Kitty Roberts spends her days searching for the perfect home for two… until her boyfriend dumps her. Devastated, she flees to a tiny seaside village called Pennystrand, where she spent golden summers as a child, before her family fell apart.

At first, Kitty’s dramatic escape proves to be exactly what she needs – golden sunsets over warm, sandy beaches, lovably eccentric new neighbours and even a blush-inducing run-in with Cory Hudson, a floppy-haired local surfer with a heart-stopping smile.
But just as Kitty feels herself beginning to heal, Cory reveals that his time in Pennystrand is nearly up. What’s more, some strange reactions to Kitty in town make her wonder if her connection to this place might go deeper than she thought.
What is this tranquil little village hiding? It seems there’s a secret in Kitty’s past that is about to turn her life on its head once more… Is she ready for the truth? And will it bring her and Cory closer together, or drive them apart?

A page-turning story full of unexpected twists and turns. It will make you smile, laugh and wish you could visit Pennystrand! Absolutely perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Heidi Swain and Carole Matthews.

my thoughts:
The Little House by the Sea (Pennystrand Village Book 1) by Tracy Rees is a light, summery book and I breezed right through it.

As the story starts off, Kitty Roberts spends her days working at a job she doesn’t really like but saving her money to buy her dream home with her live in boyfriend Mitch. That is until she and Mitch suddenly break up leaving Kitty totally heartbroken. She decides to visit a psychic who suggests she should move to a house by the sea and so she does. She ends up renting a house for 6 months in Wales in the small town of Pennystrand where she would visit as a child with her parents and sisters. She has her savings to count on for now until she decides what to do next but she starts looking for work in Pennystrand in the meantime. What she finds there is a small community of locals, gorgeous views and a lot of time to self reflect.

“Running away to find myself in a beautiful new place was a romantic-sounding idea. But this is real. I’m hurt, scared and alone, my dreams in smithereens, and I’ve displaced myself further by coming here.”- The Little House by the Sea by Tracy Rees

The story moved along quickly and I rooted for Kitty, she’s a down to earth relatable type of character. I wondered how it would end up for her as she tries to meet new people in Pennystrand and tries to move on with her life. What a nice idea, to pack it up and move to a quaint little beachside town right? Pennystrand is described so nicely I could easily envision the small town setting and the sounds of the ocean waves. The supporting cast of characters was well written and the story moved at a steady pace and held my interest throughout. The plot took a few twists and turns as Kitty settles into Pennystrand life and there is also a secret woven into the storyline that I did not see coming. It all wraps up nicely in the end while leaving it open for the next book in the series. This is a story about starting over and second chances.

The Little House by the Sea is one of those feel good stories best read in your comfy pajamas while sipping a warm cup of tea and enjoying homemade cookies which is exactly how I read most of it.

“I crack the window open an inch and smell the sea, though I can’t see it. A fresh, sweet breeze drifts in. It’s the sky that seals the deal for me-pale blue, like old, ironed sheets, stretched across a faintly glowing lemon sun, with scuds of cloud and gleams of light. I’ve never seen so much sky.”- The Little House by the Sea

We fall quiet, jokes forgotten, and take in the immensity of the ocean around us. Sharp cliffs rear into the sky, and I can see a coast path and the tiny figures of walkers. Above, the sky is vast and blue and white, an endless canopy. The most hypnotic thing is the lap and hiss of the water retreating and renewing, sighing and seething.-The Little House by the Sea


about the author:
Tracy Rees is a Cambridge graduate with a degree in Modern and Medieval Languages. After an eight-year career in nonfiction publishing, she worked as a counselor for people with cancer and their families. Amy Snow is her first novel. She lives in Swansea, Wales.



Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of The Little House by the Sea (Pennystrand Village Book 1) by Tracy Rees came via NetGalley/Bookouture.

The Thin Place by C.D. Major

source: free review copy via NetGalley/Amazon Publishing UK
title: The Thin Place
author: CD Major
published: April 15, 2021
genre: mystery thriller
pages: 319
first line: She stands on the bridge.
TW: child abuse, dog death and death of a loved one
rated: 3 out of 5

about:
She has to know the truth about Overtoun Estate, but there is a reason it has stayed buried for so long. When journalist Ava Brent decides to investigate the dark mystery of Overtoun Estate—a ‘thin place’, steeped in myth—she has no idea how dangerous this story will be for her. Overtoun looms over the town, watching, waiting: the locals fearful of the strange building and the secrets it keeps. When Ava starts to ask questions, the warm welcome she first receives turns to a cold shoulder. And before she knows it, Ava is caught in the house’s grasp too. After she discovers the history of a sick young girl who lived there, she starts to understand the sadness that shrouds it. But when she finds an ominous old message etched into a windowsill, she is forced to wonder—what horrors is the house protecting? And what will it cost her to find out? With her own first child on the way, Ava knows she should stay away. But even as her life starts to unravel, and she receives chilling threats, the house and the bridge keep pulling her back…

my thoughts:

The Thin Place by CD Major is a slow burning mystery thriller revolving around an old mansion called the Overtoun Estate. The title The Thin Place refers to the place where heaven and earth meet, where the veil is lifted. The story alternates from the POV’s of three different characters; Marion in 1929, Constance in 1949 and Ava in the current day.

Marion is unhappily married to Hamish West, Constance is a sick bedridden child and Ava is a reporter working on a piece about the estate. The Overtoun Estate is the thread that binds these three together and throughout the entire book you feel the large house looming in the background ever present. In this way, the estate is a character in and of itself.

I found the storyline started off slowly but once it got going I was invested in what was going on. The author writes the alternating POV’s seamlessly from past to present day. She does a good job at leaving one chapter off at a little cliffhanger before starting another.

I found Ava to be the most fleshed out character of the three and as the story progresses we get to see her family and her everyday life. She has become somewhat obsessed with the Overtoun Estate and it seems to call to her. I didn’t particularly like Ava because I dislike characters who start to behave cluelessly and who should know better. I’ll leave it at that in order to avoid spoilers, but I kept wondering about her actions. I felt bad for poor Constance and it was hard reading what was going on with her.

Now while I enjoyed reading The Thin Place, I did have some qualms. First of all, I do have to mention trigger warnings for child abuse, dog death and death of a loved one as this was a very heavy read. I even found that an unnecessary scene was added at the end of the book almost in order to really get the reader before the final page is turned.

Also there was an awkwardness between Ava and her mother. It just didn’t sit quite right with me and the main issue between them felt almost forced as far as how her mother was behaving. There was also weirdness going on with another supporting character had me scratching my head in confusion. I didn’t find any of it fully explained and I found it was a little all shoved under the rug at the end so the story could be wrapped up.

Unfortunately the reason given that Ava was drawn to Overtoun Estate made no sense to me. I felt a little bit cheated with that. Also of note, the Overtoun Estate is a real place in Scotland, I thought that was interesting.

While I had some issues with this one I think if you enjoy dark, mysterious thrillers that move at a slower pace, you might enjoy The Thin Place by CD Major. Even though I had a few qualms with it, I was up late nights reading and I enjoyed the creepy atmosphere surrounding the estate.

“The house sees me. The bridge guards my secrets. I feel them both, like solid arms around me, drawing me to them.”The Thin Place by CD Major.


Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of The Thin Place came via Amazon Publishing UK.

Anyone Can Crochet Amigurumi Animals by Kristi Simpson


source: free review copy via NetGalley/ Fox Chapel Publishing
title: Anyone Can Crochet Amigurumi Animals by Kristi Simpson
genre: crochet pattern book
published: December 14, 2021
pages: 128
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5

about:
Make the cutest crochet animals ever!

15 crochet patterns, including a unicorn, bumblebee, hippo, hedgehog, llama, penguin, and more Beginner-friendly guide includes an introductory overview on the basics, a stitch guide, and a section on how to read crochet patterns.

Step-by-step instructions, how-to illustrations, clear photography, and helpful tips throughout Author Kristi Simpson is a talented designer and crafter who has written more than 40 craft books and designed over 700 patterns. Needing only some simple stitches and a little stuffing, amigurumi is a charming style of crochet that’s great for beginners!

Whether you’ve been crocheting for years or have never picked up a crochet hook before, this accessible, exciting project guide will show any crafter of any skill level everything you need to know to successfully make adorable amigurumi animals! Anyone Can Make Amigurumi Animals features 15 adorable crochet patterns, from Vicky the Unicorn in her stylish skirt to Harry the Hungry Hippo, who has a fondness for burgers.

This crochet project book opens with expert guidance on basic tools and techniques and insightful introductory sections on the basics. Get detailed insight on the background of amigurumi, basic materials, how to read patterns, and other essential tips to know in the preface to the projects.

Each project that follows features clear, easy-to-follow instructions, how-to crochet illustrations, photo step-outs for detail work, and additional insider tips and tricks to make the most of your crochet projects. Also included are stitch guides, a comprehensive glossary, a handy abbreviations sheet, and more.

my thoughts:

I love crocheting Amigurumis and toys so when I saw Anyone Can Crochet Amigurumi Animals by Kristi Simpson I definitely wanted to take a peek. This collection has 15 amigurumi animal patterns which are really cute.

There’s a section explaining the materials needed, different yarns and techniques and there’s a stich glossary included at the end of the book. The photos are clear and the instructions are well written and the different amigurumis look cute and fun to make.

Some of the animals you can make with this book are fox, koala, jellyfish and llama. The patterns are listed as being easy to crochet but personally I think you need to be an advanced beginner or intermediate crocheter to get the hang of crocheting amigurumi. I actually have been teaching my daughter to crochet these past few months and she’s been making scarves. She recently attempted an amigurumi as a beginner but hasn’t gotten the hang of crocheting in the round yet.



Overall I think Anyone Can Crochet Amigurumi Animals by Kristi Simpson would make a nice addition to any crocheter looking for amigurumi patterns.




Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of Anyone Can Crochet Amigurumi Animals by Kristi Simpson arrived via Fox Chapel Publishing.

Modern Crochet Style by Lindsey Newns


source: review copy via NetGalley/ Pen and Sword UK
title: Modern Crochet Style by Lindsey Newns
genre: crochet pattern book
published: December 14, 2021
pages: 112
rated: 4 out of 5

about:
Modern Crochet Style is packed full of crochet makes for you and your home. Designer Lindsey Newns, of Lottie and Albert, has created 15 different projects to delight and inspire throughout the seasons. From t-shirt yarn bath mats and raffia beach bags, to luxe Christmas stockings and leopard-print cowls. With advice on yarns, detailed stitch descriptions, and step-by-step photo instructions, the projects are accessible to all, including beginners.

my thoughts:

Modern Crochet Style by Lindsey Newns includes 15 crochet patterns ranging in home decor to accessories. The crochet terms are explained in both US and UK which I always find helpful. I have an unedited review copy so I’m hoping that for the published copy these terms were maybe listed a little more clearly. For example, a US single crochet is a double crochet in UK terms, which is a pretty different sized stitch. Keeping that in mind you need to remember these patterns are written in UK terms. There’s also a section explaining the different UK crochet techniques with a few photos included for reference.

“Accessories are my favorite thing to crochet. If you’re looking for something that’s a bit quicker to make than crochet blankets or garments, then this is the book for you! Here you will find seasonal projects for you and your home, including a real mix of my favourite yarns, techniques and crochet styles.”-Modern Crochet Style by Lindsey Newns

As far as the patterns themselves, I found them well written with clear photos. One of the patterns I want to try is the “luxe scrunchies”. I had never thought of making scrunchies with delicate mohair yarn to give them a nice fluffy look. I love this idea and will have to look into my yarn stash to make a few. I know I have velvet yarn somewhere around here.



Some of the other patterns included in this collection are a gingham bag, woven wall hanging, textured cloths, loopy cushions and this slogan bathmat shown below. I like that the patterns showcase different crochet styles and techniques such as graph work and tapestry crochet. I also like the use of different textured yarns.



Overall, Modern Crochet Style by Lindsey Newns is a very nice collection of unique crochet patterns featuring different techniques to hone in your crafting skills. I would say this book is for the advanced beginner onwards and would make a nice addition to any crocheters pattern book library.

About the Author
Lindsey is the face behind Lottie and Albert. A designer of popular modern crochet patterns, she shares her tutorials and makes on Instagram and YouTube to over 30,000 followers. Alongside designing her own patterns, she has also worked as commissioning editor for Mollie Makes magazine, as a yarn ambassador for Hobbycraft, and appeared as a guest judge on Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas. She lives in the Cotswolds with 1 husband, 3 children and an uncountable number of balls of yarn.


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. My copy of Modern Crochet Style by Lindsey Newns came via Pen and Sword UK. The open book photos included in this post are my own.

Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde



source: review copy via Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley
title: Seven Perfect Things
author: Catherine Ryan Hyde / Twitter
genre: fiction
pages: 320
published: May 2021
first line: When Elliot opened the door, the woman on his welcome mat stuck him as bizarrely young.
rated: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
A heart-stirring novel about the joy that comes from finding love in unexpected places by the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author.

Thirteen-year-old Abby Hubble lives in an unhappy home in the Sierra Nevada foothills where her father makes life miserable for her and her mother, Mary. One day Abby witnesses a man dump a litter of puppies into the nearby river. Diving in to rescue all seven, she knows she won’t be able to bring them home. Afraid for their fate at the pound, she takes them to an abandoned cabin, where all she can offer is a promise that she’ll be back the next day.

To grieving widower Elliot Colvin, life has lost meaning. Looking for solace, he retreats to the hunting cabin he last visited years ago, before his wife’s illness. What he discovers is not at all what he expected: seven puppies and one determined girl with an indomitable heart.

As Abby and Elliot’s friendship deepens, Abby imagines how much better her life—and the puppies’ lives—would be if her mother were married to Elliot instead of her father.

Seven Perfect Things is a story about joy, where to find it, how to know it when you see it, and the courage it takes to hang on to it once you have it.


My thoughts:
I have yet to read a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde that I didn’t enjoy. This author has a way of writing wonderful stories about everyday people who do everyday things to help each other out. She writes about everyday heroes so well.

Seven Perfect Things revolves around 13 year old Abby, her mother Mary, newly widowed Elliot and 7 puppies. Abby finds herself responsible for a litter of 7 puppies and in trying to take care of them she’s also learning life lessons about responsibility and trust. The puppies need her, and she needs them.

Abby’s mother Mary married young and has lived in an unhappy marriage to her verbally abusive and controlling husband since then. Dependent on her husband financially she continues to say with him.

Elliot’s wife recently passed away and he goes to his vacation cabin in the woods for peace and quiet before he returns to work in the city. At the cabin is when he meets Abby and the puppies by a twist of fate. As the story flows, Mary, Abby and Elliot form a bond. The puppies bring theses three together.

Like I said, I really enjoyed Seven Perfect Things. I sped right through it. I found myself invested in these characters and the puppies tugged at my heartstrings of course. Abby was written really well and I rooted for her from the start. She finds these puppies who need help and she does everything she can to care for them. I felt bad for Mary who was always on edge worried about her husband’s moods. She has an awakening and finally realizes how her life revolves around her husband and that staying in an unhappy marriage for the sake of her daughter is doing more harm that good. Elliot is grieving the recent loss of his wife and in meeting Abby and Mary he finds a new purpose in helping them out.

The ending was nice as well and nothing felt rushed. These three seemed like real people with real daily struggles to overcome. I recommend Seven Perfect Things if you’re looking for an engaging read with realistic and relatable characters.

“Though she couldn’t quite put it into words, she resented having been thrust into a world where such perfect little beings could be treated as worthless. She knew she had been living in that world all along, but she resented having been forced awake. Forced to recognize it. But the puppies themselves…they were perfect.”Seven Perfect Things, 21% Kindle



About the Author:
Catherine Ryan Hyde is the New York Times and #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of forty books (and counting). An avid traveler, equestrian, and amateur photographer, she shares her astrophotography with readers on her website.

Her novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association (ALA) for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than twenty-three languages in over thirty countries. Both Becoming Chloe and Jumpstart the World were included on the ALA’s Rainbow list, and Jumpstart the World was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. Where We Belong won two Rainbow Awards in 2013, and The Language of Hoofbeats won a Rainbow Award in 2015. More than fifty of her short stories have been published in the Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, and many other journals; in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts; and in the bestselling anthology Dog Is My Copilot. Her stories have been honored by the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and have been nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in the annual Best American Short Stories anthology.

She is founder and former president (2000–2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation and still serves on its board of directors. As a professional public speaker, she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with AmeriCorps members at the White House, and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information, please visit the author at www.catherineryanhyde.com. – quoted from Amazon



Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. My copy of Seven Perfect Things by Catherine Ryan Hyde came via Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.